March 21, 2006 — Two stalwarts of the Humane Society of St. Thomas were honored Monday night for their efforts on behalf of the island's animal community.
Lisa Walker and Hubert Brumant are familiar faces at the shelter. Walker started as a volunteer in 1984 and has worked in almost every position since, most recently as the society's director of finance and administration. Hubert, current manager of animal care and control and animal cruelty investigator, joined the shelter in 1993.
Both were surrounded by well-wishers Monday night at the Mahogany Run Clubhouse, which donated its space for the evening.
After 18 years, Walker is leaving the shelter for what she termed "a spiritual, mental and health break," but Joe Elmore, society executive director, said, "we are going to keep her on a short leash."
In presenting Walker's award, Elmore said, "It was very hard to think of something tangible to get for Lisa; she's not a 'tangible' person. In that spirit, for the phenomenal job she has done for the past 18 years, we are going to name a garden bench in the new animal campus in her honor." (Groundbreaking for the campus is scheduled for this spring, Elmore said.)
Though smiling, Walker said, "Joe tricked me into this." Walker is a person who does not invite the limelight, even saying so in her acceptance speech, "I am uncomfortable doing this." After thanking Elmore and the society members, she said, "We all are working to help make the world a little better place. The animals have helped me to be a better person."
Brumant recently received a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from the University of the Virgin Islands. Surrounded by his family — wife, Pamela, and young sons, Elijah and Elisha – Brumant was beaming.
Elmore praised Brumant for earning his degree while still maintaining his full-time job at the shelter. He presented Brumant with a cash gift. "We all need to pay off student loans," Elmore joked. Brumant, clearly moved, said, "I thank God for this. I love you all, and let's continue to care for the animals."
Walker began her volunteer work "washing the dogs, walking the dogs, doing the dishes – whatever needed to be done." She said, "In 1994 I joined the board, and I did the board's bookkeeping."
In 2003 Walker became acting executive director while the society searched for a permanent director. She assumed her current post after Elmore was hired as director in 2003.
Walker organized the society's spay and neuter program in 2000, setting up a booth at Port of Sale Mall. The first year they gave out 300 certificates for the free operations, and in 2001 the number rose to 507.
After the first "Spay Day," Walker had said she was delighted, "We'd only anticipated maybe 100 — we simply didn't know what to expect."
After thinking it over for a while, Walker said Monday that the program has been her most rewarding experience. There are significantly fewer animals euthanized now, and far fewer puppies and kittens left at the shelters, Walker said.
For details on the society's spay and neuter program, visit the society's Web site. The program now costs $35. The society picks up the balance of the veterinary costs.
Elmore said Tuesday that he didn't have the exact number of animals spayed or neutered over the past few years, but it "must be several hundred." He said the society has spent $60,000 on the program, noting, "Lisa has been very instrumental in the program's success."
Speaking after the ceremony, Brumant said, "I've always wanted to be a vet, and the degree puts it closer." He said he may study at a university on St. Kitts in the future. "But," he said, "I have a family to support."
While Brumant was chatting with members and family, a voice from the past approached him. Member Thomas Hoffman introduced himself and said, "Do you remember 'Dentures'?" Brumant didn't miss a beat. "Sure I do," he said. "How could you forget her?"
It turned out that Hoffman had adopted the island dog in 1999. Hoffman said, "She was called 'Dentures' because she had a canine tooth sticking out of the side of her mouth and a pronounced overbite." He told Brumant, "'Dentures' is doing fine; I take her to work with me every day. But now she is known as 'Lucy.'"
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